My Wheelbarrow

A big green dump truck rumbled down our road. After rattling past our house, it squeaked to a stop and backed up into our driveway.

I thought it was just turning around until I heard the squeal of hydraulics and saw the box slowly tilt up…

But before I could do anything about it, a massive load of dirt slid onto the asphalt.

“What the…” I shouted.

My wife remained calm.

“I needed black dirt for the gardens around the house,” she explained, “so I called Bob’s Black Dirt.”

I couldn’t believe she called Bob. “We have ten acres of dirt,” I told her.

“But not around the house,” she said.

She was correct.

Our house rests on a pad of sand and gravel that keeps it high and dry. The rest of our property is black peat ground, some of the richest soil in the world.

“So you bought dirt and had it put on the driveway,” I asked, even though it was more than obvious what she did.

“It will only be in the driveway as long as it takes for you to move it.”

Let’s go over that last part again.


There was once a time when I would have moved heaven and earth for her.  But then I moved heaven and earth for her.  I moved it all with my wheelbarrow for the gardens she created around the first house we lived in.

I did this because I loved her and it made her happy.

But then we moved. Moving was not my idea but it also made her happy.

At that house, she did not ask for heaven to be moved.  It was okay where it was. But I moved a whole lot of earth.  I did this more out of a sense of duty than to make her happy – but still I took satisfaction in doing my duty.

At the house after that, a bit of heaven needed to be moved but not as much earth as the last two places – and I did this just to keep the peace.

Now I am still willing to move heaven and earth for her but I reserve the right to do so grudgingly.

“Instead of buying dirt,” I told her, “I could have dug it out of the pasture and dumped it around the house.”

“Sure,” she said, “and you would have taken forever to do it.  This way, you won’t be able to put your truck in the garage until you are done.”

She had me there.

Out of exasperation, I raise my gaze toward heavens and asked the sky why, oh why?

The sky gazed back from behind a veil of gathering storm clouds.


Having no desire to shovel mud, I sped into town to buy a really big tarp and who did I run into at the Big Box Store?

Why Bob, of course.

He wanted to know whether I would be willing to sell the rich black peat dirt that rests beneath a pasture we never use.

On the drive home, I shared the irony with the sky and she thought it so hilarious that she laughed until she cried…

And cried…

And cried.

Author: Almost Iowa

43 thoughts on “My Wheelbarrow”

  1. Oh, I know that rich black soil you describe, having been raised on some of southwestern Minnesota’s best farmland. The first time I bought a bag of potting soil, I thought of that earth and wondered why I was paying such a high price for dirt. But year after year I continue to pay for dirt I could scoop for free if only I lived nearer the home place.

    I need to meet your wife sometime (Oh, you, too, I suppose) once I’m healed and do a day trip to the SPAM Museum…

    1. Once you are healed and headed for the SPAM museum, we would love to meet you. Fire us an email when you are thinking of coming down.

  2. Great post, as usual! I took away two main things: 1) Never make nature laugh, or cry, or do anything to provoke any sort of reaction at all; 2) The next time I need my husband to do something, I’m going to ask your wife for advice. Because she is a genius!

  3. At some move your back will be too old and tired to move heaven and earth and she’ll have to settle for a bag of potting soil that makes you fart just to lift it. Then she will cry and cry.

  4. hehehehehehe I’m STILL laughing Greg.

    And I’m telling my wife that “” is NSFW (not suitable for wives). I did plenty of “pick ’em up, put ’em down” exercises for the military. Now that I’m a humble househusband, moving dirt (aside from vacuuming of course) is NOT part of the job description.

    1. I get complaints all the time from guys around town, “my wife read your blog…..” There are bars I can no longer step into. A writer’s life is a lonely one.

      My wife is still working too. I guess that makes a retired guy like me a house hubby too, except I have to do all the outside work too.

      1. You’d think rather than keep you AWAY from local bars, the wise friend would encourage you to hunker down more often. Tipsy writers tend to be silent ones (unless your Hemmingway or Whitman or…)

  5. Might have been easier to get a canopy for your truck. Then you wouldn’t have been driven by the need to get it into your garage. “I’ll get to the dirt pile tomorrow, Sweetheart.” –Curt

    1. It is why God invented sheds. Now all I have to do is clean out enough space for a vehicle and get an okay from the cats who live there.

  6. Great post – I’m still smiling. How much is Bob willing to pay?

    I love “But then I moved heaven and earth for her” – I mean, that should count for something.

    I have seen piles of that black dirt when visiting out there. It is amazing looking soil.

    1. Like I explained to John downthread, our soil is so rich because the region was once dominated by vast peat swamps.

      Just to our west, on the other side of the Minnesota State Mosquito Refuge is the remnants of an 18,000 acre lake, drained in the 1920’s. The irony of the lake was that it would dry up during drought years and the peat would catch fire, filling the horizon with smoke and lighting the night with flames – until the next rain or snow.

  7. What? You didn’t work out a little barter with Bob? A couple loads of pasture peat in lieu of Bob’s skid loader spreading your dirt pile around your house?

    1. The reason the soil is so rich around here is that the region was once dominated by vast swamps. Bob may want our dirt – but the water table is less than a foot below the surface. It works for a wheelbarrow but anything heavier would get literally bogged down. Our next door neighbor is the Minnesota State Mosquito Refuge. 🙂

  8. Brilliant. Oh, the frustration. We women, know our men. When I want to buy things, my husband always talks me out of it.. “Oh, let me research it. I didn’t say we wouldn’t get, but we might want a different version, a different manufacturer” – except, that day never comes. I’ve learned to just buy when the occasion calls for it. I no longer fall for his “let’s hold off for just a bit” – that means, it’ll never happen.

    1. “Oh, let me research it. I didn’t say we wouldn’t get, but we might want a different version, a different manufacturer”

      In my book of manly phrases, that one comes right after “I will get to it tomorrow, I promise.”

    1. Now look what you did.

      You made research me whether the sky is male or female. In ancient Rome, the sky God, Caelus was male. The French usage is le ciel (masculine) and the Spanish usage is el cielo (masculine)…

      In other words, it explains why I got wet.

  9. Build a box around it, right there in the driveway. That way, when the rains come, you can have a mudbath. I hear they’re very soothing.

    You might even be able to charge the neighbors a pretty penny to come sit in the mud with you.

    1. I don’t think my neighbors would be attracted to a mud bath. Given the rains this spring and the short window for running tile, they spent a lot of time wallowing in the mud.

  10. Well. I’ve heard plenty of people talk about feeling dumped on, but I’ve never known anyone who actually was. I hope you got the tarp over that pile before you started shedding tears, too.

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